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Kathua rape-n-murder case: Complainant records statement in court

Press Trust of India

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Pathankot, July 4: The complainant in the brutal rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua in January this year was produced before the the district and sessions judge here for recording his statement, officials said on Wednesday.
The complainant, who had adopted the victim, recorded his statement before the judge, they said, adding his statement would be recorded again tomorrow.
He reached the court under police protection and after the completion of day-long hearing, he was escorted back, they added.
He is the fourth witness produced by the crime branch before the court, which is hearing the case on the directions of the Supreme Court.
The complainant belongs to a nomadic minority community which shift its base during the summer months from Jammu to higher reaches of Kashmir Valley.
The court had last month framed charges of rape and murder against seven of the eight accused, paving way for the beginning of trial against them.
The accused against whom charges were framed were Sanji Ram, his son Vishal, special police officers Deepak Khajuria alias Deepu and Surinder Verma, Parvesh Kumar alias Mannu, head constable Tilak Raj, and sub-inspector Arvind Datta.
Sanji Ram, who is alleged to have hatched the conspiracy with other accused for kidnapping the girl as a carefully planned strategy to remove the minority nomadic community from the area, is considered to be the main accused, the crime branch charge sheet has alleged.
The fate of the eighth accused, who claims to be a juvenile and is a nephew of Sanji Ram, is yet to be decided after the crime branch of the Jammu and Kashmir Police contested his claim that he was a minor.
The district and sessions court has framed charges under various sections of the Ranbir Penal Code including 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 302 (murder) and 376-D (gang rape), special public prosecutor J K Chopra said earlier.
The court had also framed charges for destruction of evidence and under section 328 (causing hurt by poisoning with an intent to hurt) of the RPC.
The two policemen — Tilak Raj and Arvind Datta — were also charged under Section 161 (public servant taking illegal gratification) of the RPC, Chopra had said.
The crime branch had filed a charge sheet on April 9 in Kathua in the case of kidnap, rape and murder of the eight-year-old girl on January 10 this year.
She was killed on January 14 and her body was recovered on January 17, triggering a massive political unrest in the state.
According to the charge sheet, the victim was held in captivity at a small village temple in Kathua district where she was kept sedated and sexually assaulted before she was bludgeoned to death.
The trial in the case began on May 31 with the seven accused being produced before the district and sessions judge after the Supreme Court transferred the case from Jammu and Kashmir to Pathankot in Punjab for a fair trial following a plea by the victim’s family.
While transferring the case from Kathua to Pathankot, about 30 km away, the apex court directed day-to-day in-camera trial in the case.


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At Live Wire: Lack of training, safety gear bringing more deaths to PDD employees

Bisma Bhat

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Srinagar, Sep 22: Lack of training and reluctance to use the safety gear is bringing more deaths to the Power Development Department (PDD employees by electrocution in Kashmir Valley.
Official reports reveal that since 2014, more than 70 PDD employees and contractual labourers died on-duty due to electric shocks.
More than 25 people have become disabled and while 30 others have sustained severe burn due to electric shocks in the same period.
In the last two weeks, two deaths have been reported in Anantnag district alone.
On September 2, two employees of PDD where repairing a snapped conductor in the morning when it came into contact with a live, overlying feeder due to which one person died on spot and other received burn injuries.
In yet another incident on September 14, a 29-year-old man in Anantnag district was installing an electric transformer when he got electrocuted, and the person assisting him received burns.
An official in the PDD, who wished to be anonymous, said the main reason of the accidents was the department’s recruitment policy.
“The department is hiring men on contract based for installing poles and LT (Low Tension) and HT (High Tension) lines. They do not have proper training of the field due to which the incidents occur,” he said.
Earlier, he said, the department used to give proper training to the men responsible for field work.
The other reason was the unavailability of safety tools for the men working on poles, he said.
The department provides compensation to the families of electrocuted and injured workers from the welfare fund but that is not enough for them, he said.
The workers who suffer serious injuries at work may be unable to bear the medical expenditure, even as many have become permanently disabled.
The president of the PDD employees association, Zahoor Ahmad, said, “A daily wager from Eidgah area lost both his arms due to electric shock. He has to live with a lifelong disability.”
“The LT poles that are installed by the department should have only LT network, but unfortunately one pole have two to three feeders installed that is life threatening.”
He also claimed that department does not provide sophisticated equipment to the workers.
“No worker will risk his life and go without wearing safety equipment, if is available,” he said.
Chief Engineer PDD, Qazi Hashmat, said, “Sub-divisions are well equipped with safety gear like helmets, gloves, and boots, but having them in our division is not enough. We have to build among our employees the culture of actually using them.”
“People get very casual and take chances, and the accidents happen.”
He said they have made people well aware of fatal deaths due to electric shocks. Moreover they have shown them how people die due to electrocution so that they would get to know about it.
“We are working very hard to bring the culture of wearing proper safety measures. We are also trying to train our employees.”

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JK MLAs are among most paid legislators in India

Firdous Hassan

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Srinagar, Sep 22: The average annual income of Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs) in Jammu and Kashmir is nearly Rs 13 lakh, a study by National Election Watch (NEW) and Association of Democratic Reforms stated.
The sum is more than what the legislators in, at least, 11 other states get including New Delhi, where the annual income of an MLA is Rs 9.3 lakh.
As per the study, the data collecting NGOs have analysed the annual income of almost 57 MLAs in the state. The remaining 30 have not revealed their income.
The total annual income of the MLAs in Jammu and Kashmir adds up to Rs 7.25crore.
Karnataka, as per the study, has the richest MLAs in India, with its 203 MLAs having an annual income of Rs one crore each.
The average annual income of MLAs in India is Rs 24.59 lakh.
Sixty-three MLAs of the Chhattisgarh Assembly have the lowest annual income of about Rs 5 lakh.
The states where the MLAs have lower income compared to Jammu and Kashmir include Bihar, Jharkhand, Odhisa, Uttarakhand, Assam, Arunchal Pradesh, Tripura, and Pondicherry.
The study has also mentioned about the valley’s two MLAs including National Conference leader Nazir Ahamd Gurezi and Peoples Democratic Party’s Noor Muhammad Sheikh, who have an income of below Rs 60,000 per month.
Government recently in June doubled the salaries and allowances of legislators (both MLAs and MLCs) from Rs 80,000 per month to Rs 1.6 lakh per month.
It included a massive hike in the salaries of the Chief Minister, Ministers, and Ministers of State.
It also increased pension of former legislators from Rs 28,000 per month to Rs 50,000 per month, which too was close to the 100 per cent hike.
The erstwhile report of NEW in January this year mentioned that former Chief Ministers Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah owned property worth less than Rs 65 lakh.
While Mufti has declared her movable assets of worth Rs 10,96,854 and Rs 45,00,000 immovable assets, Omar assets include Omar assets include Rs 1.10 lakh in cash, bank balance and deposits worth Rs 46.59 lakh, gypsy and motorcycle valued Rs 3 lakh and jewellery worth Rs 15 lakh.

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Govt seals 170 illegal clinics across Kashmir

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Srinagar, Sep 22: On the directions of Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Baseer Ahmad Khan, Directorate of Health Services Kashmir (DHSK) has sealed 170 illegal and un-authorized clinics across the valley.
Consequent upon the daily reports received by the Divisional Commissioner office, regarding the operating of un-authorized clinical establishments in different areas across Kashmir Division, the Divisional Commissioner had already directed all Chief Medical Officers (CMOs) to constitute teams comprising of members from Health Services and Revenue department to conduct daily inspection of all clinical establishments and diagnostic labs across the valley including Leh and Kargil districts.
He had also directed them to take necessary action against such establishments which are operating in violation of rules, norms, laws and without licenses or run by incompetent persons in all districts.

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